James Flanagan (d. 1752): Commentary and corrections on Bob Flanagan’s history on clanflanagan.org

Whittle Flanagan's Red Hill and cemetery

Descendants of James Flanagan (d. 1752 Louisa County, Virginia) are indebted to Bob Flanagan for sharing his knowledge of our family history. At the end of his report, he invites researchers to make additions, corrections, and substantiations. Bob’s report appears to be dated about 2005 or so, so the comments, footnotes and sources bring the information up to date based on new research discoveries. Comments are added in italics and BOLD in the body of the report, with footnotes for the source citations.  Once Bob discusses the family of Whittle Flanagan, son of our James, I do not make any edits and have omitted that information here. –Rebecca Thames-Simmons, Nov 2022

Bob’s report, with my comments in bold italic:

Most reports I have seen to date refer to three brothers who left from Dublin, Ireland on a voyage to end on “some wood land and some sandy hills” at a place called “Absecon Island” or ” Absecon Beach”. ‘Drawne by the only labour and endeavour of Augustine Herrman’ ‘A note on the map states that the area is “Inhabited only or most by Indians”. ‘Indian longhouses are shown along the rivers.’ ‘The Great Egg Harbor and Little Egg Harbor Inlets are both labled. In 1693 this region was called “Egg Harbour”. On March 20th, 1693 it was mentioned in Gloucester County in court records. Also know as Atlantic County and New Waymouth at times. Today this area is around Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In 1732 these three brothers disembarked from ship with members of their family(s). Probably born in Roscommon County, Ireland, the brothers were named; Ambrose, earliest estimated birth: 1700, Whittle, ealiest estimated birth: 1702, James, earliest estimated birth: 1704. With Ambrose Flanagan, at least one family-tree record indicates, was his wife and son. His wife’s first name is not indicated, but her last name was Winwright. His son’s name was James Winwright Flanagan (the Elder), earliest estimated birth; 1723.

Little is known of the years following their landing in 1732, except that; Ambrose went with family to Virginia and was ‘a planter’. Whittle went (with family?) to North Carolina. James (with family?) stayed in the area which became New Jersey.

In at least one record it says that James (the Elder) settled in Fluvanna County, Virginia in 1740. Then he ‘removed’ to Albermarle County, Virginia. Another record says that he ‘lived in Louisa Couty, VA. as early as 1744’.

It is in 1747 that the first ‘formal records’ of James Flanagan (the Elder) are found. Up until this first record all that I have advanced has been from family-tree records/statements passed down in family writings of their ancestory.

Commentary regarding the above four paragraphs:  At this time, we do not know how or when James came to be in Virginia. He may even have been born there. The “three brothers” theory says that James Flanagan who died in 1752 (hereinafter, James-1752) came to the American colonies in 1732 with his father and two uncles. Since this theory says that one of the brothers was named Whittle, this theory his highly questionable. Why? Because Whittle is the family surname of James-1752’s wife – Sevena Whittle, daughter of Francis Whittle. Additionally, we now know that James-1752 was born much earlier than 1723, since he had a son born in 1730 (more detail further in this study).[1] And James-1752’s sons’ names were Ambrose, Whittle, and James (yes, he had two sons named James). Since he was born more like 1705-ish, the men described in the journey from Dublin to New Jersey cannot be accurate.

Additionally, the name Winwright tacked to the “immigrant” Ambrose is based on the assumption that since James-1752’s son James’s (d. 1838) middle name is Winwright, he was named for Ambrose’s wife’s maiden name.

The first record of James Flanagan of Louisa County, Virginia, is found in the Fredericksville Parish Vestry Book, 29 July 1747, and states, “That Samuel Dalton and James Flanagan do procession the lands from Nick Meriwether’s line ye Mountain and the county line to Cuffy’s Creek”. Newly-discovered records show James in Louisa County in 1743 and that he was acquainted with Francis Whittle by 1745.[2]

Also during 1747, James married Serena Frances Whittall of Albemarle County, the daughter of Francis Whittall and Sarah Cole. It would be more accurate to state “by 1747” instead of “during 1747.” The date of marriage is based on the birth of their first son, Ambrose; no marriage record has been located. “Serena” was actually “Sevena.” In deed and other court records, she is named as Sevena, Vinah, Sabina, Vinne; there is never an “r” in place of the “v” when viewing her name in documents. In addition, no documentation exists that shows Sevena’s middle name was Frances nor even used the middle initial “F.”[3]

On August 20, 1747 James ‘obtained two tracts of land in Louisa Couty from Lieut. Governor Gooch, issued at Williamsburg, one containing 400 acres “on both sides of north fork of Hudson’s Creek” for “forty shillings of good and lawful money”. This 400 acres also is the land grant from King George II refered to in many accounts. ‘The second tract of 250 acres for “twenty shillings of good and lawful money” beginning at the said Flanagan’s corner pine in Sylvanus Morris’ line…crossing three branches of Bunches’ Creek…and white oak saplins in said Flanagan’s line…’ These tracts of land constituted ‘the total land holdings in James Flanagan’s estate’.

The earliest recorded home built by James was in 1747, and we believe the original building (along with additions added) is still standing today. The home was called Red Hill. The site is in the Greensprings District of Louisa County, Virginia, located south of Route 22 on the west side of Route 15 near the waters of Hudson and Bunches’ Creeks. We now know that the home called “Red Hill” stood on land owned by Francis Whittle, not James-1752, said land having been acquired by Francis from James Stuart sometime between 1735 and 1745.[4] This is the land that Francis bequeathed to his grandsons Ambrose and Whittle in his 1750 will.[5]

Micki Flanagan Perry has sent me pictures of this house along with letters describing the house and ‘line of residents’ that have lived there. It is fascinating to also find in a map of the area described a road leading off of Hwy. 15 (south of Route 22) named Red Hill Trail. This ‘trail’ I believe leads to the Flanagan home built by James in 1747.

In 1747 James (the Elder) and wife Serena had their first child named Ambrose. On November 18, 1749 their second child was born named Whittle. Sometime in 1750 their third child was born named James (2nd) after his father. Sometime in 1751 their fourth and last child was born and named Mary. Mary was called ‘Milly’, and was likely named after her mother’s sister, her aunt Mary Whittall.

“At a Vestry held for Fredericksville Parish ye 5th day of June 1749, ordered that James Flanakin be appointed Sexton of the Middle Church in the room of Wilmoth Davis, and that his wages commence the 20th of May last”. There are variations in the spelling of the name Flanagan in the records of Louisa, Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties. I believe this Flanakin is James Flanagan (the Elder). It is also noted in research of the early settlers that the actual spelling of the name was many times Flannagan, and that with the children of James and Serena was the name thereafter consistent with the spelling Flanagan of my line.

In June of 1752 James Winwright Flanagan (the Elder) died in Louisa Couty, Virginia, I believe at his Red Hill home and probably buried in the cemetery nearby. If born in 1723, James was only 29 or 30 when he died leaving Serena with four children under 6 years of age. Tradition has it that Serena remarried a man named Lane who was not kind to his stepchildren. Subsequent deed and court records show that Sevena married Edward Lane after James-1752’s death.[6]

Two things to mention that are my opinions; 1) because James was a Sexton of the Middle Church in Fredericksville Parish, I believe he and family were religious members of the Church of Ireland. Being from Dublin I think he and parents likely prayed at Christ Church which is not Catholic, but Anglican. 2) because of his land grant from King George II that he (through father Ambrose?) had some connection back to England for influence. To obtain a grant for land from the crown, one simply had to pay the fee and commit to improving (i.e., farming) a specified portion of the land within a specified period of time.

In 1782 Serena Whittall Flanagan died at the home of her son James (2nd). The death in 1782 was Sarah Whittle, James-1752’s mother-in-law.[7] Sevena was still living in 1800, when she was subpoenaed in a chancery cause to testify about the ownership of her father Francis Whittle’s property.[8] And in 1801 she deeded land in Louisa County to her two sons Whittle and James.[3]

[1] Proof of James (d. 1752) having two sons named James:

Item 1: Louisa County VA Deed Book O p 368-369 – Made 17 Nov 1819 – Recorded 23 Nov 1819 – Know all men by these that I James Flannigen of Bedford County Va for an in consideration of the Natural love and affection which I bear to my Grandson Winstent Dalton of Pittsylvania County Va as well as for the further consideration of one Dollar to me hand by the said Winstent Dalton at or before the ensealing & the delivery of the presents (the receipt which I do hereby acknowledged, have given and do grant unto the said Winstent Dalton his heirs &c Assigns Certain peace and parcels of lands lying in Laysa County Va being lands that I came in possession of by the death of my Farther James Flannagan who resided in sd County To have and to hold the said lands and over of part and parcels thereof unto him the said Winstent Dalton his heirs &c forever And the said James Flannagen for himself his heirs &c the Parcels of land in said County unto him the said Winstent Dolton his heirs &c and assigns again the claims of him the said James Flannagan his heirs &c and against the claims of all of all and every other person or person Whatsoever shall and will warrant and forever Defend them by these presents as witness my hand and seal this 17th day of November 1819.  James Flanagan {seal} Witnesses Alexander Wade, Th P Mitchell, Jesse Creasy

Know all men by these presents that I James Flannagan of Bedford County Va have made and ordained and Constitute and appoint Winstent Dalton of Pittsylvania County Va my true and lawful attorney for me and in my name but to his use To Transact all my business make all Lawful Conveyances of my legacy in lands and all others in Loysa County Va in his name and further to do and Execute all and every other lawful act and acts needfull for recovering my lands and all other claims arrising from the estate of my farther. To his use as aforesaid as fully and affectually to all intents and purposes as if I were personally present hereby ratify and Confirming Whatsoever my said attorney shall lawfully do or cause to be done as it respects selling or conveying the title of the above mentioned lands as witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand &c this 11th day of March 1819. James x Flannagan {seal} Witnesses Alexander Wade, Th P Mitchell, Jesse x Creasye

At Louisa County Court Clerks Office 10th April 1820 This Deed of Gift and power of attorney from James Flanagan to Winstent Dalton was this day Exhibited in the said office and it appearing from the Certificate of J Steptoe Clerk of the County Court of Bedford that the same has been duly proven in the said County Court of Bedford by the Oaths of Alexander Wade Thomas P. Mitchell and Jesse Creesey subscribing witnesses to said Deed and power of Attorney is thereupon admitted to record Teste Jno Poindexter CLC

Item 2: Louisa County VA Deed Book O p 385-386 – Made 11 Apr 1820 – Recorded 12 May 1820 – Know all men by these presents, that I Winston Dolton of Pittsylvania County, having this day entered into articles of agreement with James Flanagan of Fluvanna for the division of a tract of Land in Louisa County in the fork of Hudsons creek, between said Dolton & Flannagan & Mary J Winston Dolton do hereby appoint Reuben Flanagan my lawful attorney and vest in him full power and authority to convey & confirm to said James Flanagan all my right and claim to the part of said land that shall be allotted to said James Flanagan by a lawful & proper deed in fee simple to him the said James Flanagan & his heirs forever And I do farther authorize & empower the said Reuben Flanagan my attorney as aforesaid to sell and convey in fee simple that part of said land which shall be allotted to me in the division and do hereby bind myself my heirs etc to ratify and confirm all the lawful acts & doings of my said attorney in the premises Witness my hand and seal the eleventh day of April 1820. Winston Dalton {seal} Witnesses D Watson, Ludw Bramham, John Downing – At a court held for Louisa County the 12th day of May 1820 The foregoing power of attorney from Winston Dalton to Reuben Flanagan was produced in open court and proved to be the act and deed of the said Winston Dalton by the oaths of David Watson & Ludlow Bramham two of the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded

Item 3: Louisa County VA Deed Book P pp 462-463 – Made 9 Nov 1822 – Recorded 13 Jan 1823 – This Indenture made and entered into this 9th day of November 1822 between Reuben Flanagan attorney in fact for Winston Dolton (as will appear by reference to a power of attorney executed by the said Dalton to the said Flanagan and the 11th of April 1820 and of record in Louisa Court) of the one part and William Morris &C) of the other part, witnesseth: that whereas James Flanagan of Bedford County Virginia and James Flanagan of Fluvanna County Virginia both of whom are the sons of James Flanagan the elder formerly of Louisa County Virginia claimed title to a certain tract of Land situate in the said County of Louisa on the waters of Hudsons Creek, through the said James Flanagan the elder. And whereas the said James Flanagan of Fluvanna and the said Winston Dalton who was fully authorized by a power of attorney from the said James Flanagan of Bedford which said last mentioned power of attorney is of record in Louisa Court did agree to divide the said tract of Land between them, which division has been made agreeably to the Said agreement and the said James Flanagan of Bedford by his deed (which is of record in Louisa Court conveyed all his right & title in & to the said land to the said Winston Dalton. Now the said Reuben Flanagan attorney in fact for the said Winston Dalton by the power vested in him by the said Dalton, for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred & eighty to him in hand paid by the said Wm Morris, T. C. before the ensealing & delivery of this Deed The receipt where of is hereby acknowledged has given granted bargained sold & conveyed & by these presents does give grant bargin sell & convey to the said Wm Morris one certain tract or parcel of land situate lying & being in Louisa County on the waters of Hudsons Creek, it being that part of the said tract of land which the said Above mentioned James Flanagan of Bedford & James Flanagan of Fluvanna claimed through their father James Flanagan the elder, & which was agreed to be divided between them) which fell to the said Dalton on the said division & bounded as follows to wit: Beginning at a post oak corner in Flanagan’s line thence N76 E154 poles to pointers corner in Fielding’s line thence S30 E200 poles to a Small dead oak. Thence N62 W280 poles to the beginning containing Ninety acres by actual survey to have and to hold the above described tract of land with all & singularly the appurtenances thereunto belonging to the said Wm Morris T C his heirs & assigns forever. And the said Reuben Flanagan atts as aforesaid does hereby convenance & agree to warrant the title to the said tract of Land to the said Morris his heirs & assigns free from the Claims of all persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof he has hereunto set his hand & affixed his seal the date first above written. Reuben Flanagan {seal} Witness John Whitlock, Steven Williams, Robert D Williams

Item 4: Louisa County VA Deed Book Q p 26-27 – Made 24 Mar 1822 – Recorded 24 Mar 1823 – This Indenture made & entered into this 24th day of March 1822 between James Flanagan of Fluvanna County of the one part & Wm Morris TC of the other part witnesseth that whereas the said James Flanagan of Fluvanna & a Certain James Flanagan of Bedford County both claimed to have right & title to a certain tract of Land lying in Louisa County & Situate on Hudson’s Creek through James Flanagan the elder formerly of Louisa County & father to the said James of Fluvanna & to the Said James of Bedford: and for the purpose of preventing litigation & to settle the conflicting claims of the Said two James Flanagan’s about the said Land it was agreed to divide the Said Tract of Land equally between the said two James Flanagan’s; which has been done & whereas Winston Dalton the Grandson of the Said James Flanagan of Bedford has become possessed of that part of the Said Land which fell to the said James of Bedford by virtue of a Deed of record in Louisa Court and whereas the Said Dolton has sold that part which he became possessed of to the said William Morris TC as will appear by a Deed dated the 9 of Novr 1822. Now for & in consideration of the premises & for the further sum of One Dollar to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged the said James Flanagan of Fluvanna does hereby bargin Sell & Convey to the Said William Morris TC one Certain tract or parcel of Land Situate lying & being in Louisa County on the Waters of Hudson’s creek it being that Part of the Said Tract of Land which was in dispute between the Said two James Flanagan’s which fell to the Said James Flanagan of Bedford & bounded as follows to wit: Beginning at a post oak corner in Flanagan’s line thence N76 E154 poles to pointers corner in Fielding’s line. Thence S30 E200 poles to a small dead oak, thence N62 W280 poles to the beginning Containing ninety acres be the same little or much to have & to hold the said above described Tract of Land to the Said Wm Morris to him & his heirs forever, & the Said James Flanagan of Fluvanna does hereby Covenant & agree to Warrant & defend the title to the Said above described Tract of Land free from the claims of all persons claiming under or by him & from the claims of no other persons: In Testimony whereof he has hereunto Set his hand & affixed his Seal the date first above written. James Flanagan {seal} Witness G. M. Quarles, Saml F Morris. Fluvanna County to wit Wm Tompkins.  We Matthew Wills & Wilson J Cary Justices of the peace in the County aforesaid do hereby certify that James Flanagan a party to the within Deed personally appeared before us in our County aforesaid and acknowledged the Same to be his act and deed and desired us to certify the said acknowledgment to the Clerk of the County Court of Louisa in order that the said Deed may be recorded Given under our hands and seals this 24th day of March 1823.


[2] We first find James-1752 in Francis Jerdone’s merchant ledger in the following entries:

[No Folio number provided in the transcription]; description says, “Hanover County 1743; Sundries Dr to Balance, being a list of Debts due to the Cargo belonging to Neill Buchanan, Esq. in London, 1st October.” There is more information in the original ledger, but the transcriber did not include it. The transcribed entry says, Flanekan, James – By Adam Chisholm” Source: Magazineof Virginia Genealogy, Vol. 34 p 189.

[Folio 75] Hanover County
1743/4 Mr James Flanikan in Louisa
March 22 1 pr Bellows, rum, 1 buckhornhandle knife, 1 doz aul blades, 1 ivory comb, Sugar;
1744 Contra By ballance
Source: Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, Vol. 35 p 326

[Folio 99] Hanover County
Sundries Drs [debits] to ballance being a full list of the debts due to the Cargo belonging to the Executors of Neill Buchanan Esqr. deceased this 10th day of Novr 1744
Flanikan, James………………144……………. By Francis Whittle -/-/-
Source: Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, Vol. 36 p 100

[Folio 144] Hanover County
1744 Mr Francis Whittle in Louisa
Nov 10 To Ballance from folio 51
Jany 15 2 newtestaments, March 22nd 2 narrow hoes
Augt To your assumpsit of James Flanican’s ballance
1745 Contra Oct 1 By Ballance
Source: Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, Vol. 38 p 53



a)        Louisa Co VA Will Book 1 pp 24-25, will of Francis Whittall, names Vinne Flanagan

b)       Louisa Co VA Deed Book E pp 74-75, Edward Lane and Vinah his wife to Goodman, 13 Nov 1775, she signs as “Sabina”

c)        Louisa Co VA Deed Book E pp 75, Edward Lane and Sabina his wife to Smith, 3 Nov 1775

d)       “Louisa County Records You Probably Never Saw of 18th Century Virginia,” John C. Bell, Nashville TN 1983, page 65, Chapter “Unrecorded Deeds of Louisa County 1762-1803,”: Sevina Lane to Whittle & Jas. Flannagans 16 Sep 1801, 2/3 of original tract.

e)      Louisa Co VA Chancery Cause, 1800-1815, Flanagan v Carver, filed 5 Mar 1800, names Sabina Lane


[4] See “Whittle Flanagan’s Red Hill Home – A Study” here (https://www.wikitree.com/photo.php/7/75/Flanagan-1540.jpg)

[5] Louisa Co VA Will Book 1 pp 24-25, will of Francis Whittall, names Vinne Flanagan

[6] Sevena married to Edward lane – see Endnote 3

[7] Louisa Co VA will Book 2 p 450 – James Flanagan bond for administration of the estate of Sarah Whittle decd

[8] See footnote 3, item e.

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